The Conference & Updates

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Wool recycling research at Metropolia University of Applies Sciences. Usage of recycled wool and business potentials.

Anneli Auranen, Master Student in Textile, Aalto University has been involved in wool recycling project.  The research aimed at creating connections with different wool actors and connect the supply chain for wool recycling in Finland. Another aim was to research the suitability of recycled wool for a variety of products and see what kind of business potential there is in wool recycling. They also studied fiber properties and chemical residues in recycled wool.

The project was coordinated by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences but several companies involved in the wool/textile industry participated.

The mechanical recycling process of wool includes collecting, sorting, shredding, carding, spinning, garment production, transporting, storage, sales and using – including repairing and reusing. Spinning into yarn can be done only once as the fibre length is shortened during shredding.

Collecting for the project was done by Reuse centre in Helsinki. Knitwear and old textiles with a minimum of 75% wool was collected. Sorting was made according to colour and fibre content. The materials is not always so easy to tell if labels are missing. Sorting was labour-intensive, as removing hard parts like zippers, buttons etc. was manually done. They also used waste from the wool industry which is easier to sort. 

Shredding means to tears textiles apart into fibres that can be used again. The next step is opening and mixing with virgin fibres. Carding straightens the fibers and removes trash and tangles. During carding the fibres are turned into batts, thin sheets or a long strip. Spinning of recycled wool fibresisthe same process as with new wool with the exception that you cannot spin worsted yarn due to the uneven quality of fibres. It is also difficult to produce thin yarn from recycled fibers but in Italy they can make thinner yarn than made in this project. 

The fibre length of recycled fibers varied between 25-53 mm. This is good compared to the fibre length of virgin wool (25-75 mm). The fiber composition of 80 % recycled wool /20 % virgin wool had the average fiber length of 47mm, which performs well in all production stages.

It is important to analyse if there are chemical residues in recycled wool. When the material was tested for formaldehyde it contained 4-22 mg per kg which is under the limit allowed for textiles for children. Other tests were done and they didn’t find anything alarming, but more tests are needed.

The results from the study shows that recycled wool performed well in all production stages! The current problem is that there is no organized collection and sorting of the material in Finland. There is however a project called Telaketju in Finland that organizes textile collecting and sorting by 2023. 

All final products are grey, as there were not enough textiles for sorting in different colours. The amounts of wool waste in Finland are relatively small so cooperation with other countries could be beneficial for larger scale business.

Baltic Wool Conference

7-9 October 2021

The Gotland Region believes that there is a great deal of knowledge and a great potential for development around the wool business in Gotland. Partly in entrepreneurship, but also locally in the micro industries. We would like to contribute to the development of the wool industry. We strongly believe this conference in the long term will contribute to many of our strategic focus areas. It will be a visitor occasion in October, it will lead to development of the wool industry and it will strengthen craftsmanship and a living cultural heritage.

Nils-Erik Selin, Head of growth and development, Region Gotland

The National Swedish Handicraft Council (NFH) is a government agency under the Ministry of Culture with the task of promoting handicrafts. Important partners for the Authority’s work are the country’s regions, civil society organizations and other cultural authorities. Priority areas include sustainability, cultural and creative industries as well as working with the intangible cultural heritage.

Since the autumn of 2018, a national developer has been focusing on sustainability and wool issues at NFH. The goal is an agenda for how the wool issues, like classification and infrastructure, should be solved at national level together with various actors and authorities. This is done in the form of seminars, conferences and networking, both within Sweden and abroad. The initiative “Baltic Wool Conference” is part of the work to promote the Swedish wool industry, create new contacts and opportunities for further development together with the countries around the Baltic Sea.

Annkristin Hult, National Developer

The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society Gotland, which hosts the Baltic Wool Conference, works for developing business in the countryside. Lamb production is an important industry in Gotland that provides both tasty lamb meat, shimmering lambskin and wool for many uses. Grazing animals keep the landscape open and provide biodiversity. We believe in the development of the Swedish wool industry in collaboration with our neighbors around the Baltic Sea.

Mats Pettersson, CEO of Hushållningssällskapet Gotland